Cherry Audio Chroma first look review: Rhodes Chroma Synthesizer plugin for your DAW

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Cherry Audio Chroma recreates the rare Rhodes Chroma analog polyphonic Synthesizer from 1982 and puts it in your DAW.

Cherry Audio has been firing up the teaser machine for two weeks now. What will be the latest plugin? A new analog classic, a obscure synth or an new original.

Now, it is known. It’s another classic rare synth that now beams in your DAW. It’s called Cherry Audio Chroma.

Cherry Audio Chroma

Chroma is the latest Synthesizer plugin from CA. Congratulations to everyone who guessed correctly. As the name suggests, it is an authentic emulation of the Rhodes Chroma (ARP Chroma) Synthesizer. Cherry Audio gives an insight into why the synth was also known as ARP Chroma.

Story Of The Chroma

In 1979, ARP Instruments began development of the 16-voice polyphonic Chroma analog Synthesizer. With an ambitious modular architecture and unique sound, it was destined to be a marvel of its time.

Unfortunately, ARP faced bankruptcy in 1981, and the design was taken over by Rhodes, who would produce it from 1982 to 1984. Though the Chroma’s flat-panel numeric interface made it notoriously challenging to operate, the technology under the hood was groundbreaking, making it a remarkable final achievement for the ARP team and its visionary engineers.

The end of the story is that the Rhodes Chroma was only produced in limited numbers, and so became very rare.  Cherry Audio gave me kindly early access to the plugin. 

Cherry Audio Chroma

Chroma authentically reproduces the 16-voice architecture and sound of the original Rhodes Chroma. The special modular engine of the OG was completely emulated and incorporated into the plugin. It gives you 16 oscillators, filters, VCAs, LFO, and 32 envelope generators. 


This engine’s powerful feature is its ability to rearrange them in 16 pre-configured signal paths, from classic VCO-VCF-VCA to more complex configurations with sync, filter FM, ring mode, serial filter paths, and more. Cherry Audio implemented the change very simply in a drop-down menu.

By changing the routing, you instantly have a new sound—often with just one or two clicks. The oscillators, as well as the filters, are classic and have traditional waveforms. Cherry Audio keeps things very authentic here.

The modulation capabilities of the original Rhodes Chroma are also available. They are pretty deep. For example, the sweep generator/LFO has various waveforms, including complete patterns and neat extras.

Next to this, you have two advanced envelope generators that can modulate the filter, amp but also extensively the pitch. The modulation assignments are configured quickly and easily using the dedicated pop-up menus.

Cherry Audio Chroma Expander

You read the subtitle right. There is also a Chroma Expander that adds a second Chroma Synthesizer to the mix, running in layer or split modes. I didn’t see this in the first hour of testing. I only found it after looking through the different controls.

Cherry Audio Chroma

That was a nice surprise. One sounds excellent, and the second is the cherry on top, making it way more creative and deep. And pretty impressive is that it’s not a stripped-down version. It offers all the same features, including the lovely deep voice configurations.

Further, you can refine your sounds with a full array of effects, which are also available on both layers. Chroma hosts seven high-quality effects, including distortion, phaser, flanger/chorus, delay, and reverb. The latter also includes Cherry Audio’s lovely ambient algorithm, Galactic. Plus, it has a global EQ and limiter.

Cherry also loves owners of the OG hardware. The plugin offers SysEx support, so you can transfer your banks and individual patches from your hardware to the software.

Regarding sounds, Chroma ships with over 700 presets from professional sound designers, including James Dyson, INHALT, Drew Schlesinger, and more. You can discover 100 more patches that blend vintage tones with a contemporary feel with the Chroma Classics Preset Pack by James Terris (sold separately).

Cherry Audio Chroma First Look Review

I’m immediately sorry that I didn’t add a sound demo. By preparing the Superbooth 24, I didn’t have the time to record any sounds in a video. But I’ve tried the synth and played around with patches long enough to give you my first look insights. I can’t say how close the plugin sounds to the original as I don’t have a Rhodes Chroma for comparison in the studio.

I like the sound quality here. It has a nice vintage sound, is concise, and strongly resembles the sound I heard of the OG Chroma. However, I’m less of a fan of the original operation. Even though there is a zoom function, the parameter interface is a bit too fiddly for me, but that is a very subjective opinion. 

The new Cherry Audio Chroma impressed me with its features, quality, and presets—one of the best Cherry plugins I’ve tested so far. Not 100% perfect, but a very successful Synthesizer plugin.


Cherry Audio Chroma is available now for $69. It runs as a VST, VST3, AU, and AAX plugin and standalone formats on macOS (native Apple Silicon + Intel) and Windows. A free 30-day demo is available.

The company will donate 5% of profits from its May website sales of Chroma to the ARP Foundation, supporting Alan R. Pearlman’s legacy of innovation that ARP and the Chroma represented.

More information here: Cherry Audio

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1 Comment

  1. As an actual former Chroma owner, please let me say this virtual instrument is an absolute delight (and coming the same day-ish as GForce’s impOSCar 3! Had an OSCar, too, back in the day, that sat on top of the actual Chroma:) Everything you could hope for is all there, sounds fantastic and is even nicer when played from a piano-weighted set of keys (the KX88 still rules in this studio:) Enjoy!

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